Two Wireless-Charging Advocacy Groups Merge to Consolidate Efforts

Wireless-charging standards are on a track for wider implementation now that advocacy groups A4WP and PMA are merging to create a stronger single entity.

wireless charging standards

Two groups that support wireless-charging technologies are merging to formalize their previous efforts to collaborate on standards and technologies for the easier charging of mobile devices.

The two groups, the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) and the Power Matters Alliance (PMA), unveiled their pending merger Jan. 5 in a joint announcement. The merger aims to "help establish an organization that will accelerate the availability and deployment of wireless-charging technology on a global scale," the groups stated.

The merger is expected to be completed by mid-2015. Back in February 2014, the two groups had announced an earlier collaboration agreement that will now lead to the pending merger.

"One of the main objectives of the new organization is to accelerate the transition to volume economies of scale of wireless power transfer technology to benefit consumers, mobile network operators, consumer-facing commercial and retail brands, and the consumer electronics industry, including its semiconductor and manufacturing partners," the group stated. "Consumers will gain access to an exciting and enhanced battery-charging and power-management experience sooner across the full spectrum of devices in daily use. Mobile-network operators and commercial and retail brands can commit to the necessary investment confident of stable, long-term evolution and management of innovative wireless-charging technologies."

Kamil Grajski, the board chairman and president of the Alliance for Wireless Power, said in a statement: "The 'standards war' narrative presents a false choice. Consider that the typical mass-market smartphone contains a multiplicity of radio technologies (Bluetooth, NFC, WiFi, 3G, LTE), each built around a vibrant ecosystem, whereas other devices are single-mode (Bluetooth headset). The A4WP PMA merger is in the same spirit: enable the market to apply technologies to their best use cases."

The name of the combined group has not yet been announced.

"The key to volume economics is to combine best-in-class wireless power transfer technology with innovative cloud-based network services," Ron Resnick, president of the existing Power Matters Alliance, said in a statement. "The best-in-breed combination of A4WP and PMA assures decision-makers throughout the industry of responsible stewardship of these essential contributing technologies."

The boards of both the A4WP and PMA will combine under the merger. Among the members of the two groups today are AT&T, Broadcom, Duracell, Flextronics, Gill Electronics, Integrated Device Technologies (IDT), Intel, Powermat, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, Samsung Electro-Mechanics, Starbucks and WiTricity.

Both groups were founded individually in 2012. The A4WP has been dedicated to building a global wireless-charging ecosystem based on the Rezence magnetic resonance wireless-charging standard, while PMA supports inductive-charging methods.

Another wireless-charging group, the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), has been developing its own Qi standard.

The three-way fight for wireless-charging standards has meant that the marketplace has been somewhat splintered. The merger between two of the groups hopes to resolve some of that chasm.

Wireless charging remains a market where lots of innovation is continuing, according to an August 2014 eWEEK story. Researchers around the world have been looking to make no-cord charging easier using a wide variety of methods, including sound waves or ultrasound. One such experiment is under way at England's Queen Mary University of London, where the idea of using sound to charge phones has been a project between researchers at the school and a team from Nokia.

Meanwhile, a start-up called uBeam has been working for several years to perfect a method by which it uses ultrasound to move electricity from a source into a wireless device, from a smartphone to a tablet or other device.